Man's Sinfulness And Mortality
The opening chapters of the Bible teach some things so
clearly, as we believe, that we can do nothing but believe them. They are not
things men would be proud to stand for, and we accept them as true in spite of a
very natural human desire to believe the opposite.
Genesis 3 contains the record of how sin and death came into
the world, resulting in two consequences for all of us. The first has to do with
our moral make-up. When Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the garden, a
disposition toward sin became part of the make-up of human flesh, so that "the
mind of the flesh (became) enmity against God" (Rom 8:7). The dreadful
consequences became very clear when Cain murdered his brother Abel in the next
generation (Gen 4), and the abrupt and alarming decline of human behavior was
such that God saw that "all flesh had corrupted His way on the earth" (Gen
6:12). The Flood was only a temporary remedy to man's inclination to sin;
through recurring crises since, it has been revealed that "the heart of man is
deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jer 17:9). We feel in our
minds, too, what the Bible also reveals: that the tendency of our spirit is
constantly to go our own way, in spite of God's claims upon us. We also know,
with Paul, that left to ourselves we have no power to overcome our waywardness
It is not pleasing to hold such a belief, but it is essential.
If we deny the truth of our sinful nature, we may come to think of ourselves as
"good people", and subsequently to suppose that, given good advice (such as we
might get from watching the behavior of the Lord Jesus), we can succeed by our
own strength in pleasing God and gaining a reward to come. To subscribe to this
theory of "humanism" is to deny the need of a Savior. Such humanism is common to
Quakers, modern Unitarians, and the more liberal mainline churches. But for
Christadelphians it is intolerable, because Christianity is the religion of the
Savior -- Christ who came to call helpless sinners to repentance (Rom 5:6-9), or
it is no religion at all.
The second consequence of the sin in the garden concerns our
bodily nature. In short, Adam's sin led to his ultimate, inevitable death. He
was expelled from Eden, and in time returned to dust. The words, "Dust thou art,
and to dust shalt thou return" (Gen 3:19) were spoken to the one who sinned, and
it seems to us a great perversion of truth to say, as the poet did, that these
words "were not spoken of the soul". They were, of course: "The soul that
sinneth, it shall die" (Eze 18:4). We find it absurd to suppose that, when the
"soul" of Adam conceived the sin in the garden, God would have been satisfied to
pronounce punishment on the body of Adam alone. Adam, like any man, was
considered as a whole being -- body and soul -- and it was upon that whole being
that God pronounced the sentence of death.
We find this understanding of human beings confirmed in
numerous parts of Scripture: our nature is compared to "the beasts that perish"
(Psa 49:20), and to the "grass" that withers and dies (Isa 40:6,7; 1Pe 1:24).
The unconscious condition of the dead is described as "sleep" (Dan 12:2), and it
is said to be the fate of all the children of Adam, since "all have sinned" (Rom
Further, Christadelphians do not find in the Bible the
elaborate doctrine of immediate rewards and punishments at death which is so
widespread, in one form of another, in most religious bodies. It is not in
accordance with Scripture to suppose that all men, immediately at death, go
either to endless bliss or endless torment. Yet this doctrine has so taken
possession of Christendom that most worshipers, and most religious bodies, pin
their hope on this expectation. In deference to the teaching of Scripture, we
must hold ourselves apart from such compromising opinions. We must teach the
Bible doctrines of death and the Resurrection without espousing any
contradictory teaching which would nullify them.